Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And now for the pretty stuff (Kitchen and Basement Reno Part 5)

Once the kitchen demolition was done, i framed up the walls, and had our electrician come in to re-wire the kitchen for appliances, outlets and lights. I also roughed-in the plumbing to where our sink and dishwasher were to go, as well i ran the water line to our new fridge opening. While i was working on that, my wife insulated all the exterior walls. We were then ready for our drywallers - R.A. Rosati to come in and do their magic.

Newly drywalled and primed room:

With our walls done we turned our attention to flooring. We began by removing the quarter round in our living and dining room, and by gluing and screwing down plywood on top of our sub floor. Then we laid a foam underpad over the plywood, and installed heating pads in our kitchen and powder room. We were now finally ready to install our new Kahrs hardwood floor. We were really excited for the floor to go in, we watched the instructional video on Youtube. And it looked really easy. Well, let me tell you that video is a BIG FAT LIE!!! In the video you see a man gently tapping the boards together. In reality, my wife, brother and i spent a couple of weeks pulling, prying, bashing and generally struggling to get the boards to lock. But we were on a tight schedule and had to get the floors done before our cabinets could be installed.

Flooring progress:

While we were still sore and tired from installing the Kahrs floor, our spirits were high because we knew that from this point on, it would be time for the pretty stuff to start going in. And we also knew that we would be able to leave the heavy lifting to the pros. As they would be the ones to install the new french doors and cabinets.

And now for some of the pretty stuff:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I ♥ RESTORE (Kitchen and Basement Reno Part 4)

With our kitchen plan and finish choices decided, it was now time to make sure our contractors were all lined up. We used Homestars.com (excellent site!) to find good trades people. And we knew which parts of the project we were going to tackle on our own. We found it incredibly helpful to break down the kitchen and basement projects into separate jobs, noting all the dependencies. And making sure the schedule proceeded in synch, so that our trades could do what they needed both in the kitchen and the basement during their time allotted. Then we mapped out each job on a calendar with realistic time frames and a bit of contingency built in. We were now ready to begin.

We had called Habitat for Humanity’s Restore to see if they would be interested in taking our old cabinets, granite counter and appliances. After sending them some pictures of the old kitchen, they were happy to send over a crew to carefully dismantle everything and pick it up. And when they sold the cabinets, counter and appliances, we received a tax receipt for $2200. I would highly recommend to anyone doing a major renovation, involving replacing anything that still has a lot of value, to please consider donating it to Restore. Their concept truly is a win-win-win solution; they sell the donated goods to raise money to fund Habitat for Humanity. Meanwhile it keeps the items from going into a landfill, and finally it not only reduces dumping fees for the home owner, it also provides them with a tax receipt once the donated goods are sold.

When coming up with our kitchen design, we noticed that the ceiling in the kitchen was much lower than the ceiling in the rest of the main floor. So I drilled a few large holes in the ceiling drywall to see whether we had a false ceiling and how much room we could gain back. Turns out the old owner liked the look of pot lights, but didn’t want to pay to redo the ceiling. So instead he just put in a false ceiling about 13 inches below the original, and then wired up the pot lights to the single box that was in the middle of the kitchen. Once Restore had removed everything worth salvaging, we were excited to begin demolition, so that we could see the room without the false ceiling and partition walls around the washer & dryer. My wife and I spent a few days of hammering, prying and bagging and watched as the room began to expand before our eyes.

Now came time to demolish the ceramic floor tile. For this I rented an electric jack hammer with a tile scraping bit. Here’s a tip for anyone looking to remove tile, go with a small SDS demolition hammer instead of a big heavy jack hammer. Unlike jack hammering concrete where the weight of the machine works for you, in tile scraping you need to hold the machine at a shallow angle to the floor. Therefore all that extra weight is just more for you to support with your arms.

The last part of our demolition, involved moving the door opening and rebuilding the brick wall. For this we had Glen from Castlerock Masonry come back.

Here are some progress pics:

No more false ceiling and partition walls - YAY!

The doorway being moved to the center:

The exterior brick work:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kitchen Inspiration (Kitchen and Basement Reno Part 3)

Miraculously my wife and I both agreed (…mostly) on what type of kitchen we wanted. Lately the magazines have been trending towards very integrated kitchens, so all one sees is a a flat wall of paneling, with the various doors and appliances cleverly blending together to form a homogenous paneled-wall look. We didn’t want anything too sleek, slick or polished looking, so that look was out for us. While we quietly admire these kitchens from afar, we simply lack the necessary O.C.D. to keep that type of kitchen looking as good as it should. We also tried to steer away from anything that might be trendy, like “funky” glass mosaics, “punchy” colourful cabinets, bamboo doors or recycled counters. What we did agree upon was on the classic, understated, white kitchen style, made famous by carpenter to the rich and famous: Christopher Peacock. His kitchens have names, like Refectory or Scullery, denoting the different price points. After options and customization his kitchens usually start out at the low 6 digits and go up from there. Our hope was to distill the essence of his kitchens and find an affordable way to recapture it. Fortunately, in one of the best posts ever, Willow D├ęcor blog had done most of the hard work for us. I drew up the first kitchen designs on graph paper, and my wife and I then sat down and played around with some of the cabinet placements. After about 4 tries, we came up with, what we think is a functional and attractive design.

Here’s what we went with (in future posts I’ll detail the installation of each of these items):

Hardwood floors – Our house is open from the front door all the way to the back, and we wanted the flooring to be continuous throughout. So we chose a dark oak engineered hardwood floor by Kahrs.

White floor to ceiling cabinets – Our kitchen did not have a very large foot print, but we knew we could go a lot higher with the cabinets ….Once we got rid of the false ceiling.

White marble counters – Lots of people tried to steer us away from marble towards granite, though very few of them were ever talking from experience with marble. This is a must read blog post for anyone considering marble counters. For us the decision was simple – marble is always classic, understated, beautiful and timeless, like Grace Kelly. Granite on the other hand is like Zsa Zsa Gabor in a leopard print unitard.

French Doors – We had ugly aluminum sliding patio doors, that as far as I could tell opened the wrong way, the operable side of the patio door, meant you had to duck as you passed through, or risk banging your head on a kitchen cabinet. That and there wasn't anyway to lock it from the outside.

Powder Room – We had a small powder room in our kitchen, we toyed with the idea of removing it, to get a bigger kitchen, but we felt the convenience of having a powder room on the main floor out-weighed having a few more cabinets. So we changed the fixtures and painted it.

Here is a before picture:

A laundry closet used to eat up a lot of valuable space.

Old powder room: